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Delaware Researcher to Share Climate Change Findings Relevant to ODU Initiative

Danielle Kreeger

A seminar Monday, Feb. 21, at Old Dominion University's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography, will bring to Norfolk a researcher with important findings to share about adaptation to climate change in mid-Atlantic coastal areas.

Danielle Kreeger, science director for the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and a research associate professor at Drexel University, will deliver the presentation, "Adapting to Climate Change: Tough Choices in the Delaware Estuary," at 3:30 p.m. in the CCPO facility on the third floor of the Innovation Research Park Building 1 on Monarch Way.

The seminar is free and open to the public. A reception with refreshments will be at 3 p.m.

"Dr. Kreeger's seminar is very relevant to the Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative that is now being developed through Old Dominion University," said Eileen Hofmann, the ODU professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences who coordinates the CCPO seminar series. The multi-disciplinary initiative was launched late last year.

The consequences of climate change in the Delaware Estuary will be multi-faceted and will interact with ongoing landscape change, according to Kreeger. Increased temperature, sea level, salinity, storms and altered seasonal precipitation likely will perturb ecological relationships, push some species past tolerance limits, breach ecological thresholds and degrade core ecosystem services.

Kreeger's research has assessed vulnerabilities of bivalve shellfish, tidal wetlands and drinking water as case studies of natural resource impacts. Although a few resources may see some benefits from warming, she said, "our analysis suggests that there will be more losers than winners."

Adaptation options have been characterized by the researcher for these case study resources, highlighting many tough choices that may be required since funding and expertise to support adaptation will likely continue to be limited. For example, Kreeger predicts that strategic retreat may be necessary for some wetlands, management agencies may need to choose which bivalve species are sustained, and the costs of drinking water protection will likely escalate.

"Tools are being developed to prioritize adaptation tactics based on projected natural capital outcomes," she added. "More rigorous scientific information is needed, including ecosystem models and a watershed-based climate monitoring network so that adaptation plans 'adapt' to changing conditions.

This article was posted on: February 17, 2011

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